Greens Protest Newcrest in IndonesiaPublished by MAC on 2004-04-26
PT Newmont Minahasa Raya Condemned For Destroying Buyat Bay Waters
JATAM Press Release, 26 April 2004
Jakarta - Thirty days after receiving a letter from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Jakarta, PT Newmont Minahasa Raya (NMR) has not responded to the concerns outlined of environmental degradation of Buyat Bay thus spurning condemnation from several NGOs on Monday, April 26th in Jakarta.
PT NMR was condemned for not rehabilitating the degraded environment caused by their mining operations, by Walhi (Friends of the Earth Indonesia), JATAM (Mining Advocacy Network), ELSAM (Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy), TAPAL (Environmentalist Defence Team) and Kontras (an Indonesian human rights organization).
"Up until now the community living in the vicinity of the PT NMR gold mining operations as well as several environmental NGOs in Indonesia have demanded that PT NMR stop their activities that is destroying the quality of the environment, especially the quality of the Buyat Bay waters," explained Raja Siregar from Walhi.
Raja added that because in June 2004 PT NMR will close their operations, they are demanding that the company immediately conduct environmental rehabilitation, especially in the Buyat Bay waters of Bolaang Mongondow District and surrounding areas and respond to other issues related to the losses suffered by the Ratatotok Village, Belang Regency, Minahasa District and Buyat coastal community, Bolaang Mongondow District, North Sulawesi province.
According to JATAM data, PT NMR is dumping 2000 cubic metres per day into the Buyat Bay waters. The tailings disposal has resulted in fish kills (including goropa, tato, kuli paser, and nener fish) and heavy metal contamination of the Buyat Bay waters. The heavy metal contamination includes mercury, arsenic, lead and antimony. The fish kills and heavy metal contamination has been found in a 100-150 metre radius from the end of the PT NMR tailings pipe.
Based on Walhi research results in 2000, there has been a sharp change in the natural landscape of Buyat Bay as a result of the tailings disposal, especially at a depth of 80-90 metres or at the end of the tailings pipe. In 1997, the end of the tailings pipe is at a depth of 82 metres (according to PT NMR's environmental impact assessment (AMDAL)) but has since changed to depths between 60-70 metres. The dumping of 2000 cubic metres per day from 1997 to 2000 has caused a shallowness of the bay of 10-12 metres at the end of the tailings pipe. PT NMR's tailings has spread throughout most of the waters, starting at a depth of 13 metres, and has covered sea grass and coral reef areas. There are grave concerns that heavy metal contamination including arsenic and mercury have accumulated in the people of Buyat Bay village.
TAPAL coordinator Kurniawan Adi Nugroho criticized the Denver,Colorado, US-based company because they have closed their eyes to various impacts suffered by the Buyat Bay-Ratatotok communities, mainly the impacts caused by the company's submarine tailings disposal operations.
"Both these communities now are in an alarming state. Environmental contamination by tailings waste disposed by PT NMR is not only killing the livelihoods of most fisher peoples but is also causing health conditions like confusion, skin diseases, cramps, and trembling," stated Kurniawan.
Although the mine closure date is quickly approaching, within a few months, PT NMR has not socialized the mine closure program plans to the community. If the community requests information about this matter, the company states that they do not have enough money to duplicate the information. The inability of the company to do this was expressed at a dialogue between the Buyat and Ratatotok communities and PT NMR facilitated by the North Sulawesi provincial government in March 2004.
"This is very shameful. The company has made profits of hundreds of billion Rupiah from the exploitation in the area but cannot aford to photocopy the mine closure documents? It is therefore difficult to believe that this company will fulfill its obligations associated with environmental, social and economic rehabilitation based on their track record so far," stated Amiruddin al Rahab from ELSAM.
Aminuddin A. Kirom
Media dan Publikasi JATAM
Greens Protest Newcrest in Indonesia
May 02, 2004
Environmentalists have accused Australian mining company Newcrest's of human rights violations and breaches of environmental law at its Toguraci gold mine in Halmahera, North Maluku province.
Friends of the Earth Australia (FoEA) and the Mineral Policy Institute (MPI) on Wednesday (28/4/04) staged a vigil outside Newcrest's headquarters in Melbourne as an act of solidarity with the Kao and Malifut communities living around the Toguraci mine.
Last October, Newcrest had to suspend operations at the site because of the presence of about 200 illegal miners.
In January, Mobile Brigade (Brimob) police on the company's payroll shot dead a land rights protester at the mine. Many other protesters were beaten and arrested.
Since the shooting, locals critical of Newcrest have been subjected to police harassment and detention without trial, FoEA said in a press statement last week.
FoEA also accused Newcrest of violating Indonesia's 1999 Forestry Law by clearing land last year in a protected forest to pave the way for commercial mining at Toguraci. The government recently passed a new regulation allowing mining companies with contracts issued before the Forestry Law to resume operations in protected forests.
Despite the regulation, the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) is preparing a lawsuit against Newcrest for breaching the Forestry Law.
Meanwhile, Indonesia's National Commission on Human Rights is investigating alleged human rights violations by Brimob officers acting as Newcrest's security force.
MPI spokesman Igor O'Neil said protestors at Halmahera have asked Australia to help "bring Newcrest under control".
"They want Newcrest to prevent violence by the Brimob paramilitary security force, and respect the environment protection laws and the rights of Halmahera's indigenous and local people to sustainable livelihoods on their traditional land," he said.
Walhi's chief campaigner Nur Hidayati said Newcrest's operations were contributing to the destruction of Indonesia's forests.
"Indonesian forests are in crisis, with the deforestation rate reaching more than 3.5 million hectares per year. Newcrest's operation in Toguraci Protected Forest is brazenly violating our Forestry Law and also their contract of work with our government which states that foreign mining operators will conform to environmental law and regulation during their operations in Indonesia," she said.
Liz Turner from FoEA accused the Australian Embassy in Jakarta of complicity in the events at Toguraci. "The Australian Embassy in Jakarta has been involved with lobbying on behalf of Newcrest to overturn environmental protection and evict local indigenous communities from mining leases," she said.
"What happens to the credibility and enforcement of Indonesia's forest protection laws when big foreign companies can get away with ignoring them?" she added.
Regardless of the criticism, work is now underway at Toguraci following delays caused by the illegal mining.
Newcrest last month reported an unaudited net profit of A$21.6 million for the first-quarter of 2004.
Lawsuit: Newcrest's Indonesian mining violations challenged
Source: JATAM & MPI
28 April 2004
Vigil - 28 APRIL 8.30am
Newcrest Office- 600 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne
On Wednesday 28 April, Friends of the Earth and the Mineral Policy Institute will hold a vigil outside the headquarters of Newcrest Mining company (600 St Kilda Rd Melbourne) to protest against human rights violations and breaches of environmental law in North Maluku, Indonesia.
In January 2004, a protest against Newcrest's goldmine activities in North Maluku, Indonesia ended in tragedy. BRIMOB, Indonesia's notorious paramilitary force, acting as security for Newcrest opened fire at the protesters causing the death of one and the beating and arrest of hundreds. Since this date local people critical of Newcrest's mine have been subjected to police harrassment and detention without trial.
Newcrest, a Melbourne based mining company, began its goldmining operations at Halmahera in 1998. In 2003, Newcrest cleared a new open-cut mine site in the Toguraci Protected Forest, which is in violation of the Indonesian Forestry Law (Clause 38, 41/1999).
The Indonesian Human Rights Commission, KOMNAS HAM, is investigating alleged human rights violations by Brimob acting as Newcrest's security force at the Newcrest mine. Meanwhile, WALHI - Friends of the Earth Indonesia has announced it is preparing legal action against Newcrest's breach of environmental laws at the Toguraci mine.
Igor O'Neil from the Mineral Policy Institute says, "Protestors at Halmahera have asked for Australians to help bring Newcrest under control: They want Newcrest to prevent violence by the Brimob paramilitary security force, and respect the environment protection laws and the rights of Halmahera's indigenous and local people to sustainable livelihoods on their traditional land."
"Indonesian forests are in crisis, with the deforestation rate reaching more than 3.5 million hectares per year," said Ms. Nur Hidayati from WALHI - Friends of the Earth Indonesia. "Newcrest's operation in Toguraci Protected Forest is brazenly violating our Forestry Law and also their contract of work with our Government which states that foreign mining operators will conform to environmental law and regulation during their operations in Indonesia."
Liz Turner from Friends of the Earth Melbourne said made clear the Australian responsibility for the events in North Maluku: "The Australian embassy in Jakarta has been involved with lobbying on behalf of Newcrest to overturn environmental protection and evict local indigenous communities from mining leases. What happens to the credibility and enforcement of Indonesia's forest protection laws when big foreign companies can get away with ignoring them?" asked Ms Turner.
We hold this vigil in solidarity with the Kao and Malifut communities of Halmahera, North Maluku.
Comment: Nur Hidayati (in Australia) 0415 993 840 or Liz Turner 0419 338 047.
For more info call Friends of the Earth on 9419 8700 or visit:
Newmont (PT Newmont Nusa Tenggara) also operates the much bigger gold-copper mine in East Lombok. This uses floating reagents and detergents instead of cyanide as at the Minahasa Raya mine (NMR) in North Sulwesi. Newmont Nusa Tenggara has been dumping 120,000 tons per day of tailings (60 times more than at NMR) since the end of 1999, amounting to.43.8 million tons per year. Surfers and fisher people around Lombok have noticed a decline in water quality and fish catch since the STD operation began., although the company denies it..
"The fish decrease in Lombok Timor, it is not due to sub-sea tailings disposal"
May 07, 2004
PT Newmont Nusa Tenggara (NNT) has not yet received information directly from the Vice Governor regarding this company's tailings has caused decreasing fish in East Lombok waters as reported by fishermen to Vice Governor of Nusa Tenggara Barat (NTB). This company trusrs the Vice Governor to take action to review the situation and determine the truth of the situation, it was stated by Kasan Mulyono Public Relation Manager NNT to Miningindo.
The company is aware that there is significant proof that there has been a general decrease in fish catch not only in East Lombok but throughout Indonesia due to a variety of causes including over fishing and destructive fishing practices such as the use of fish bombs and poisons. "While we are not sure what specifically has caused the fish decrease in Lombok Timor, we are very confident that it is not due to sub-sea tailings disposal from PTNNT," said Mulyono.
PTNNT hopes that appropriate authorities will survey the situation and determine the true causes of the decreased fish catch in East Lombok. Further, this company hopes that appropriate authorities are able to design a program to assist these fishermen in ways that will improve their income while emphasizing non-destructive fishing practices.
Allegations regarding decreased fish catch and NNT tailings have risen several times. The first time that this allegation was made by NGOs from East Lombok was in 1999, prior to NNT initiating operations and prior to the presence of any tailings. There continues to be misunderstandings regarding NNT's tailings disposal system.
First, those tailings are placed south of Sumbawa in an area consistent with that predicted and described in the approved environmental impact assessment (ANDAL). The area of tailings disposal is located over 50 kilometers from Tanjung Luar in East Lombok. Second, joint monitoring by NNT and LIPI, has demonstrated that NNT's tailings are confined within the Senunu canyon, descending to depths of 3000 to 4000 meters, far below the area inhabited by commercially valuable fish.
Additionally, joint monitoring by NTB BAPEDALDA and the NTB Independent team has shown that there is no heavy metal contamination in dissolved water. Furthermore, these studies demonstrate that the sea water quality continues to be better than that required for Sea Garden Conservation Standards.
Third and most important, NNT's tailings are non-hazardous and non-toxic and similar to the mud and sand found on the bottom of the sea. LIPI has conducted independent toxicity studies with commercial fish species and NNT tailings, concluding that the tailings, even with no dilution, had no toxicity affects on these species.
NNT remains committed to open communications and to minimizing the impact on the environment and the people of Sumbawa and NTB.
"We remain hopeful that the Government will be able to determine the true cause of reduced fish catch in East Lombok and will take steps to reverse that trend. Although we are not sure why the fish catch in East Lombok is decreasing, PTNNT tailings have been shown to be non-toxic, and non-hazardous to fish even when undiluted. Further the tailings disposal system has been shown to be operating as predicted in the ANDAL," said Mulyono.
NNT is an Indonesian joint venture company owned 80% by Nusa Tenggara Partnership and 20% by PT Pukuafu Indah (Indonesia). Nusa Tenggara Partnership is owned 56.25% by Newmont Indonesia Limited and 43.75% by Nusa Tenggara Mining Corporation. It was formed in 1986 to explore and eventually exploit under contract to the Government of Republic of Indonesia a Contract of Work area located on Eastern NTB.